Category Archives: vikings

tilbake

flying norge Back with eight bairns/ åtte barn

I never thought I would be back with eight pupils and a member of staff, leading them all to twelve days of Norwegian experience in families and school.

It took just under a month (from our new term in Shetland) to land back at Flesland, and wander back in my now familiar Bryggen i Bergen, Vågen, via Bybanen – Bergen’s Light Railway that links BGO to the great sentrum – only this time for a pioneering trip to 62N.

bryggen 1

I love school exchanges. I still reminisce that in Germany three years ago, led by my colleague and friend Peter Haviland. This one, however, had a couple of twists: back to familiar territory, and, unique in its nature, for it encompassed four Shetland schools with that in Måløy, Sogne og Fjordane, on the island of Vågsøy. It felt such a great honour to be vetted with both such leadership responsibilities and setting a precedent by both the Association – under the helm of Graham Nicolson and Per Kåre Nybakk – and my school. Three years earlier, I was asked to find host families for a small party of young Norwegians by friend and Shetland-Måløy Twinning Association… This time, I would return with a small group I affectionately christened “the Shetland Gang”. That first term at my High School in Lerwick would prove both hectic, challenging and exciting!

The trip proved to be epic! A two-day trek that would require two boats (Shetland-Arberdeen and Bergen-Måløy) and an aeroplane (ABZ-BGO). And what a saga!

on the fast boat norge

Back in the mythical land, back in what I have always called heim since I first stepped onto Norwegian soil… Where I feel home on this other side of the North Sea.

Back in Måløy, Anita’s homeground… The one who opened the door to it all – NYBAKK, more than a boat, a clan, now my Norwegian family. My first visit there would prove the stepping stone to this year’s voyage and exchange. The great Norskie jigsaw is shaping up with flair and grace.

The ride would prove long and tiring for us all, as we arrived long after dusk on 14 September and engulfed ourselves inside the ferry terminal. Arve was there, with such a huge smile! Our host families, ready to welcome those young Shettis, as the school’s Rektor (Headmaster) Kåre Bakke nicknamed us all, for a good night sleep before our very first day at his establishment. Happy but exhausted.

62N sign

Some stories to write and share! A brand new taste of Norwegian life began for all. And each of us – pupil & staff – experienced our own along the way. For my part, I was reunited with Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik at Gate 6. And my temporary Norwegian home life was rekindled with unbound joy. Immersed in norsk (with flings of English to relieve my brain!) inside their home, with family and friends, would help me improve my humble knowledge of Nynorsk, and local dialect. Challenged by so many voices, including that of a friendly story teller on the first Friday night at Kraftstasjonen Restaurant! What a night! Anne Mabel and Arve ensured I would have a memorable time, and that they managed effortlessly. I really felt home; helped out Jarl Eirik with homework, felt an integral part of the clan, especially once Sam (their dog) accepted me fully… Hmmm. I knew that leaving them would mean tears in my heart, and it did. They ensured I would explore this wonderful island called Vågsøy.

brig brua to M

heim (home) with a view

sunrise fra heim

to each sunrise, new adventure!

skog trening 24 sep 2017

skog trening (forest hiking) with Anne-Mabel, Jarl Eirik and Arve for fun!

The Educational Experience

Up at 0630 every morning – each school day began at 0830 and finished at 1410. The Norwegian system encompasses different ethics, which would either make smile or terrorise any British teacher! Some differences – from the day structure to the more informal working relationship – we all tasted for five full days. Our Shetland Gang was challenged every day, and undertook a blend of private study, assembling and delivering their Shetland presentation (as requested by the Association) which they delivered on nearly 10 different occasions to a myriad of class groups – as well as start preparing their own for Shetland, and they even cooked for their Norwegian counterparts & Rektor. Colleague and friend Tanya Myhre would keep us smiling every morning. The In-School programme shaped up for such pioneering experience, and, every single member of staff made us welcome and fully supported. My Deputy Leader would also prove invaluable on a daily basis. What an eye opener!

But we did more than this.

Whereas Tuesday was spent visiting four different local businesses around Måløy, the final Saturday would be felt as the ultimate prize: sightseeing in and around Geiranger , where we also celebrated one of our pupil’s 14th birthday. I believe he will never forget.

fjellet 2

trekking through the mountains

Geiranger fjorden

Geiranger at water level

perspektiv norge

stepping out at snow level on the roof of Western Norway

Per Kåre Nybakk and Kåre Bakke worked hand in hand all all levels, and employed a gang of host drivers for such unforgettable experience. I cannot thank them and everyone enough for enabling this entire trip.

An experience our young Shettis and us, team, would never forget.

our sihouettes at the top of the mountain

Some extraordinary stories to tell about their Norskie life chapters, as well as to share with their families & friends back home. Our journey back to our islands’ shore proved as epic as the inbound adventure, as we had to overnight in Aberdeen because of flight and boat timings… But we made it, and now we are resettling into our Shetland lives, we are barely beginning to share our tales.

 

Thank you, Graham, Per Kåre, Valerie, Mandy, Peter and Lewie, for all your support along the way – Marina, for accompanying such pioneering trip, Tanya, Kåre and everyone at the Vågsøy ungdomskule for all help and friendliness, Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik, for having me at home – as well as all our host families and friends. But foremost, to you all, dear Shetland Gang. You were awesome 🙂

kannesteinen

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worldwide

Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.

Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.

“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…

compass-head-book-cover From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!

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nomad in vestlandet

hame-heim-home-e October belonged to Norway in autumn gold

Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.

Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig –  could help you a great deal in that way.

Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.

 Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane… 

vestlandet-map

To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.

Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.

Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.

AND what a journey it has been!

From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!

October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…

from-the-slate-table

The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.

There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head.  an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig! 

da-farm red-squirrel-ekorn-at-da-farm-oct-2016-e sunset-in-kvinnherad-oct-2016 And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.

dscn9455 To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.

bergen-at-dusk-e

Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,

oseana-oct-16 I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).

prawn-sandwich glacier-from-oseana The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.

Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen

And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.

fanafjorden And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in

løy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!

To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.

Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!

jolster-1  jolster-2

Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!

sognefjorden

Mighty Sognefjorden

EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.

And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..

Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.

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love story

Histoire d’amour, love story. Last June I flew to Hordaland to be by their side. In nine days’ time I shall return and reconvene with this other side of the sea. I remember François speaking of belonging to the clan. I know I do, and cannot wait to step out of the plane in Bergen. Somehow it begins to feel like a Viking’s  homecoming, hamefarin.

Dear Anita and François, it is on its way to you, and should arrive a day before me. :=)

anita-og-francois Access to the wedding photobook HERE 

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Hame, heime

   Not space, but sea oddity.

Always a peculiar feeling when you taste something different.

Hordaland, Bergen, Bryggen, Straume, Krokeide, Fana, Os. This other side of the North Sea, the western fringe of Norway, along my very 60N latitude, I longed to see, feel, taste with my own heart, turned reality at the start of summer. 

All this for the wedding of friends. That leap eastwards for an extended weekend flung new doors wide open. A leap that proved more than a mere one. To reconvene with Anita and François felt such a joy, as much as with Catherine and Iris in Bergen for the celebration, unimaginable, only years ago! We, da peerie Shetland contingent, were made so much welcome by our respective hosts. Magic! I had promised Any a beer in Bergen. We crossed the sea together, I would fulfil my promise; and we did just that. Whereas time vanished like lit gun powder, we made the most of it.

Any and her promised beer


Saturday was Anita and François’ Day, and we had fun! Wonderful, multi-lingual ceremony followed by a great party. Though I was conscious this too would be swallowed by time…

To stop the clock when we are connected in the moment is every man’s dream.

How I too wish to hold our planet still for a while… That race against time cannot be won. I left my friends at the barn in Fana to be reunited with another kindred spirit I had not hugged for a good four years. Precious time.

She, like Annbjørg in Straume, offered me her home as a base. Norwegian hospitality feels as warm as on my side of the North Sea. We yarned very late, slept very little, but shared such a precious slice of life. 

Sunday inside her fjord, farm and world. I wished for sea eagles, and Ragni gave me so much more.


Magic Sunday found inside blue, the majesty of Heime, the local équivalent of “hame” (home), starting point of a second collection of poetry now in motion.

So much I have found in such a short time spent on the other side of the sea. So fruitful, inspirational, now I know there is a home on either side of the North Sea.

Poetry is flowing, and, for the very first time, in Norwegian too.

It feels a brand new adventure in the making. My heart now beats on both sides.

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Gratulerer


Gratulerer med dagen alle sammen i Norge!

Happy Constitution Day, Norway!

A month today, I will discover you for the first time, reconvene with some of my Norskie friends and take a bite for the first time 🙂

I cannot wait to cross the sea, fly along that 60N Latitude eastward and see your mountains shooting off water in the sky 🙂

Shetland, Norge, a long story tainted with love and deep friendship 🙂 

Today, am clad in your colours. My D-Day countdown has begun 🙂 

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visitors

The island remains a honeypot for all kinds of visitors – sometimes I let my imagination loose at sea, and imagine lighthouse beams as magnets… Too irresistible to the intrepid one to ignore.

  Two kinds of visitors caught my eye. The first clad in clinker and rivets looked at the lerwigian sky like in defiance – yes, a dragon in the heart of our only town!

 From the Norwegian, it translated as Dragon Harald the Fairhair, back at Alexandra Wharf for a first time in a couple of years – en route to NY via the old Viking routes. Draken Harald certainly caught our attention & hearts.


Statsraad Lehmkuhl had arrived and already moored at her usual place at Victoria Pier. I would catch her the following morning just off Bressay Light with my other notable visitor, Lancashire based Landscape Photographer, Peter Laurence who followed in the footsteps of Britain’s Landscape Photography master, Faye Godwin,  who had immortalised the island in the 1980s…


A day in the field would only seal friendship, challenge the eye, as we employed a whole day well spent between the old lime kilns of Fladdabister to the edge of the rocky promontory, Grutness.

And what a day it proved to be. Armed with our respective lenses, time turned irrelevant, for our wandering in between tall grass and muddy roadsides filled our eyes with smiles.


And we wandered across tall grass and May flowers…

And pointed to the majesty of the southern edge of my homeworld.




I may spend a lifetime  capturing that power of place, the eye remains challenged as time loses sight in salt. 

With gracious thanks to Peter for a memorable day. Enjoy Compass Head inside each page. 🙂 

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